Palate Pleasers

Archive for the ‘Chili, Soups and Stews’ Category

It’s good to be back and blogging about my favorite things.  Food and wine – what’s not to love?  Over the past several months, I’ve come across many recipes that I’ve made, but didn’t quite feel they were worthy of putting pen to paper (so to speak).  However, over the past several months I’ve been looking at this recipe thinking I really need to make this – it’s perfect for a nice winter day or anyday for that matter.  Afterall, I first printed the recipe in February 2007 and here we are nearly 4 years later and I’m finally making it.  It’s from “Every Day with Rachael Ray” and it’s a 30 minute meal.  I have to tell you that if my husband had been home on time and not stuck in traffic, I would have been able to make and serve this dish in 30 minutes.  Even now it’s in the pot waiting to be eaten and the nice thing about it is the favors are melding together and when we do eat it (hopefully soon), it’ll be just right!  **Here it is April and I am just posting this blog from January – I think you’ll still enjoy it regardless**


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

4 ribs celery – chopped

2 onions – chopped

2 carrots – shredded (1-1/2 cups)

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper

6 cups chicken broth

1 pound ground chicken*

1 egg

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (a couple of generous handfuls)

1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese (a couple of generous handfuls)

2 cloves garlic – finely chopped

One – 1 pound package gnocchi

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Flat leaf parsley

Crusty bread for dunking


In a soup pot, heat the EVOO over medium high heat.  Add the celery, onions, carrots and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the broth, cover the pot and bring to boil.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Stir in the egg, bread crumbs, cheese and garlic.  Roll the mixture into walnut-sized meatballs (you’ll have about 40) and add to the stoup.  Simmer for about 10 minutes while you wash up.  Add the gnocchi to the stoup and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the peas and parsley and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Remove the stoup from the heat, discard the bay leaf and let cool for 5 minutes.  Serve with bread.

COOK’s NOTE: Since I didn’t have ground chicken, I used a mix of ground pork and ground sirloin that I had sitting in the freezer and already mixed up from another meal.  Once it thawed I did add extra bread crumbs and parmesan cheese to them.  They came out really great in the Stoup.   I did not use any garlic – so that would be up to you if you wanted to.  I also used one-half a can of peas instead of frozen since I didn’t have a package handy but I would never do that again (Leave out the peas!).  In addition, I used dried Parsely which worked just as well as the fresh.  And to top it off, I made biscuits – but crusty bread or ciabatta rolls  would have been a nice addition.    It’s definitely a great meal and if you have a chance to make it – I’d encourage you to do so.

Bon Appetit!



I love chicken & dumplings.  Mike’s mom has been talking about how she makes them for her great-grandchildren when they come to visit and while I don’t have her recipe just yet, I found one that suited me perfectly and used many of my favorite ingredients to cook with and in.  Plus, it’s really savory and loaded with great flavor – it uses more of my favorite ingredients like Cornmeal and fresh herbs.  One of my favorite cookbooks is the “Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook.”  I love it so much that I actually bought a cast iron skillet and this exact cookbook for one of my sisters…she’s loving it too!  There are so many great recipes in this book and I’m sure  I will probably cook my way through it and blog about each one that I make.   Cast iron is so easy to cook with – I ended up getting myself an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven and use it often too.   I would urge you to prepare everything before you start cooking it.  It will help to keep the prep time down.


2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 4 chicken breasts)

Salt & Pepper

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

3 Tbsp butter

1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced

4 ounces small white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed and halved.

1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

3 Cups chicken stock

3/4 cup heavy cream (Trader Joes carries this)

1/4 cup dry sherry

2-3 Medium carrots – peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 celery stocks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano leaves

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

3/4 cup frozen peas


1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cornmeal

2-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

7 Tbsp chilled butter

3 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 Cup whole milk

1/2 tsp kosher salt or fleur de sel


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees
  • To prepare the chicken, rinse the chicken breasts, pat them dry and cut them into 1-inch strips.  Season with salt and pepper and divide into 3 batches.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the first batch of chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides – about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining batches, adding another tablespoon of olive oil for each batch.  Once all the chicken is cooked, set chicken aside.
  • In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened (almost carmelized) – about 5 minutes.  Stir in flour.  Slowly add the chicken broth, cream and sherry, whisking often and bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and add carrots, celery, bay leaf, nutmeg, oregano and thyme.  Generously season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for an extra 5 minutes.  Return the chicken strips to the skillet and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Mix in the peas.

To prepare the dumplings:

  • whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Cut the chilled butter into tablespoon sized slices.  Using a pastry blender and working quickly so the butter remains cold, cut in the butter until the pieces are pea-sized.  (You can also transfer the flour mixture to a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the butter and pulse 5 or 6 times)  Gently mix in the rosemary, using your hands or a spatula.  Add the milk and mix gently just until the ingredients are wet and slightly sticky.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop up some of the dumpling mixture and drop it on top of the chicken mixture.  Repeat until all the dumpling mixture is used (you should have about 10 dumplings).  Sprinkle the tops with kosher salt and put the skillet in the oven.  Bake until the dumplings are golden brown – 20 to 25 minutes.  If you want to brown the tops of the dumplings more, brush the tops with melted butter and turn on the broiler for the last few minutes, keeping a close eye on the dumplings at this point.  Serve from the skillet.

 COOK’s NOTE:  Where do I begin…I loved the savory-ness of the dumplings with the cornmeal and the rosemary.    It’s great being able to walk outside and pick the rosemary, thyme and oregano from the fresh herbs growing in my back yard.   The underside of the dumpling will be moist, while the top is hard.  I also made the dumplings in my food processor – it was so much easier than trying to blend with a pastry blender.    Also, I didn’t have fresh mushrooms, but did have a 4 ounce jar of mushrooms and used those.  They worked just as well.  I’m not a big fan of cooked carrots, so I only used 1 carrot and added a bit more celery.   I did add the nutmeg and it blended really well with the cream, sherry and chicken broth.  When this came out of the oven it was more dense than stew like.  There wasn’t any extra broth.  The consistency reminded Mike and me of a chicken pot pie.  So, the next time for me and this time for you – add more broth/water to make it more stew like.  (Maybe an additional 2 cups of broth/water).  Next time I will make it in my dutch oven too.  Mike kept saying that it really had good flavors between the chicken and the dumplings – which it does.  It’s so savory!  We loved it and fortunately there are left overs!  Can’t wait to eat it again.**

Bon Appetit!

When Mike & I first got married I thought I would make Chili for dinner.  I never really made it while I was single and figured how difficult can it be?  Aside from hamburger and beans – I couldn’t quite figure out what else to put in to it.  Do you put tomato sauce, diced  or crushed tomatoes?  So, Mike suggested I call his mom and see how she made hers.   Over time, I have added a few things extra things to make it my own.  These are the basic ingredients for chili and in time you too will make it your own.   


1 Cup Onion

1 lb ground hamburger or turkey

1 packet Chili Seasoning (Schilling’s or McCormick’s)

1 can 14 ounce Chili Beans

1 can 14 ounce Kidney Beans

1 can 14 ounce Black Beans

1 can 14 ounce Diced tomatoes

1 Cup water

In a Stock pot or Dutch Oven, sauté onions in olive oil until tender.  Add hamburger and cook until done – Once hamburger is cooked add the packet of Chili seasoning to the hamburger and onion.  Follow the directions on the package of the seasoning mix which includes adding water and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes.  Mix everything together and continue to add the 3 different types of beans and their juice.  If you want the sauce to be thinner, than add water or tomato sauce.  Add Salt & Pepper to taste.

Bring chili to boil and then reduce it to simmer and cook for an additional 1-2 hours.

**COOK’s NOTE:  I cook mine in a cast iron dutch-oven as it retains the heat and I can simmer for a couple hours before serving.  This allows all the juices and flavors to meld together.  I also prefer diced tomatos and sometimes I add Chili powder to the chili to give it a kick.  I like my Chili garnished with Cheese, but you can add raw onions or sour cream or nothing at all.

I also always serve it with Cornbread and not Marie Callender ‘s – I make mine from scratch – once you try it this way you’ll never want it from a package.**


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June 2018
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